House Speaker Paul Ryan Delivers Commencement Address at Carthage College CSPAN May 30, 2016 10:01pm-10:16pm EDT
obama. we begin with members of congress, hearing first from paul ryan and then senators barbara boxer and jeff sessions. it's month-to-month paul ryan gave a commencement speech in his home state of wisconsin at carthage college. it was his second time delivering the commencement address. he spoke previously in 2006. [applause] rep. ryan: thank you. dr. ryan. it sounds like a tom clancy novel. i forgot about that.
thank you very much. to the class of 2016, congratulations. [applause] this is a big moment in your life and no matter how much fun you will have tonight, you are bound to remember some of it. [laughter] , no bigorget the speech loss. i will get over it eventually. remember the people who got you here. there is an old saying i might have made up a few minutes ago. marriage is for the couple and the wedding is for the family. i think of your graduation the same way. it is their achievement just as much as it is yours. they have gladly given you all of the credit. if your brother or your sister or grandparents or cousins get a little teary-eyed, or they break down and sob, thank and appreciate them.
they love you more than you will ever know. to all the faculty and families, i want to say, job well done. fantastic. this is what gives us all hope for the future of the country and the community. it was basically 10 years ago since i spoke at this convention last time and the last time i was here, it was my first encounter as a catholic with our new bishop. timothy cardinal dolan, who was archbishop of milwaukee. he did the prayer, and i did the speech. my topic was truth in the modern world. as expected, it was a total hit. [laughter] i got wild applause, cheering, shouting, and crying. that was just from the archbishop [laughter]
you know tim dolan. he is a jovial guy. he came up and said, i loved your speech. it was so short. we have been great friends ever since. if you feel stir crazy and you are thinking about the rest of the day and the rest of your year or your life, rest assured, i will get right to the point. the biggest piece of advice i would give to all of you is this. do not worry too much about the plan. sometimes, fulfillment lies in very unpredictable places. all of your life, people are going to hound you about the plan, the plan, what is your plan? have you found a job, are you going to graduate school, where do you see yourself in 20 years? it will seem no one cares what you do so much as where you end
up. you start to wonder about whether you should care either. careerism in the wrong way is cynicism in perpetual motion. before donor services drags me off stage let me clarify. , i am not telling you to reject the job offer and move into your parents' basement. what i am saying is wherever you end up, the work itself is the reward. treat it that way. the truth is, life can put your best laid plans through the paper shredder. you may never get the dream job or if you do, it may turn out to be a nightmare. maybe you are meant to do something else. what seems to you like catastrophe could end up becoming opportunity. do not be so quick to dismiss the opportunity if it does not fit into the plan. when you come back and see a
fork in the road, you are probably deciding between two paths. instead of thinking, how do i stay on course, think to yourself, where can i do the most good? where can i get real fulfillment? if you realize it is a detour, take it. that in a nutshell is basically my advice. it would be rude to give a three-minute commencement address, so let me proceed to elaborate. when i was your age, i had a plan. 1992. it seems like yesterday, doesn't it? [laughter] it doesn't, does it? i had a plan, i thought i had it a good out and i knew exactly what i wanted to do. i wanted to be an economist. it goes to show you how much fun i was in those days. [laughter] the plan was work in finance for a few years, public finance, go
to grad school get my phd, join , a think tank, give policymakers advice or moved to milwaukee work for an economic , firm. a few years later, everything was a going to plan. i was working in economic policy. i was getting ready for grad school. then life intervened. the congressman who represented my home district decided to run for senate. i think his daughter went to carthage. he asked me to be his campaign manager. i said that is not my thing. i'm a policy guy and not a political guy. he said, in that case, in that case you should run for my seat. i said, run for your seat? that is crazy. i am 27 years old. he asked me why not and i said, i was young and no way could i win. it was not my plan. he said, if i listened to all of the people who told me what i could not do, i would never have gotten anything done in my life. what do you care about, what do you believe in? i told him i believed in the principles of our founding fathers.
i loved public-policy because i wanted to solve problems. that is what he needed to hear. he said run. i still was not convinced. i called my mentor. i lost my father when i was a kid, so i grew up with mentors. one of my best was a guy named jack kemp. he was a congressman from new york. i asked him, what do you think? should i do this? he said absolutely, you would make a huge difference. go do it. i called another mentor. bill bennett. i asked, does this past the laugh test? he says, yes, barely. [laughter] actually, he was quite encouraging. i called my mom and told her what i was thinking and she thought i was crazy. "you would really want to do that?" ultimately, i ran and i won. soon i had another plan. the house ofed and
representatives where i wanted to do go and where i wanted to make my difference. the issues i care so much about and the issues my employers were telling me they wanted me to work on, were the issues in front of the house ways and means committee. tax reform, economic growth, jobs, health care, retirement security, poverty. my goal was to become the chairman of that committee because i thought i could be a huge asset or at least make a big difference in the areas that i cared so much about. i worked for years to achieve that goal and finally, last year in 2015, i became the chairman of that committee. seven months in, john boehner resigned unexpectedly. the next guy in line, who i just assumed would be the next guy, kevin mccarthy, dropped out of the running. my colleagues asked me to run.
i never wanted to be speaker. i said no many times before. i was a policy guy. i do not like the idea of spending my time on other things. i lived with my family in janesville. every weekend, i am with my family. yesterday was turkey hunting and track meet and then dinner with my mom. i could not give up those weekends. john told me, if you do not like the job, change it, keep your weekends at home and focus on policy, make it work. turn it around. i took the advice and i soon realized i could do this and i actually like the job. now i feel like the dog that caught the car who was never chasing it in the first place. [laughter] we seem to have something in common as well. at the beginning of your senior year, i also did not know what i would be doing after graduation. this job is not anything i ever
expected or even thought i wanted. yet i still am doing what i , love. public policy. i learned, eventually, in my journey, that public policy was my vocation. public service is where i found my fulfillment. through all the twists and the turns, that has been the consistent theme of my life. now you have to go out and figure out what is yours. it may change as you get older. the only way you're going to find out is if you take your work seriously. it is your contribution to our country. when i say this, i am not saying your work is what you get paid for. your work is all of your responsibilities. like your family, your friendships, your community. it is funny. as life gets more complicated, it also gets a whole lot simpler
as well. status will matter a lot less and doing your part will matter more. do not worry too much about the plan. as i was thinking about these remarks, i had a mild panic attack that my advice was not sufficiently practical. for good measure, let me put it in a quick three-part , postscript. first, a lot of people will tell you not to fear failure, but learn from it. that is a great piece of advice . i would also say you need to forgive it, too. you will make mistakes but so will other people. your friends and coworkers and family. do not sweat the small stuff. take it in stride. it is good life advice. it is also good professional advice. nobody likes a debbie downer. nobody likes somebody who is
lecturing all the time. there are a lot of young, talented, smart, ambitious people in society, you among them. attitude is everything. have a good attitude. uplifter. fill the glass and do not take from the glass. second, read as much as is humanly possible. seriously. john adams once wrote to his son, you will never be alone with a poet in your pocket. i was always more of a history and economics guy. the lesson still applies. the greatest asset you have is your mind but it is like a muscle. you have to keep it in shape. do not forget that. you come out of college and you are like, i do not have to read that stuff anymore. don't. third, if you are a believer, keep going to church. if you are a believer, keep
going to church. do not let that fall by the wayside. i know that might sound a little preachy and even a little cheesy. you do not need to make a big show of it. just go. prayer has sustained me and difficult moments in my life and i think it will do the same for you. as you get older, you will realize that life actually does follow a plan. it just may not be your plan. it is god's plan. coming to accept that fundamental fact, not coming to accept that begrudgingly, but peacefully, that is the essence of faith. you might not be able to make all the changes you wanted. the question is, did you make a difference whenever you could? did you meet the moment? did you see yourself in the mirror that morning or evening and think, ok, i'm doing this the right way? are you endeavoring to be fulfilled and be a good person?
in all of your aspects, all your works in life? if you remember one word from the speech, let it be faith. that should be all the planning you need. may god bless you and keep you in his care. congratulations once again. thank you very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> california senator barbara boxer told graduates at the university berkley school of politics to be resilient in the face of criticism. the democratic lawmaker who announced in january her plans to retire after serving 30 years in congress also talked about her own future beyond elected office. this is 10 minutes. [applause] sen. boxer: thank you so much, professor.